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Fort Madison Community Hospital Joining Great River Health System

Great River Health System in West Burlington and Fort Madison Community Hospital announced in December 2017 that they were exploring a merger. The two sides announced Tuesday morning that the exploration is complete and that they will start working together on August 1.

The FMCH Board of Directors has signed an affliation agreement with Great River Health System. Great River currently oversees a hospital in West Burlington and pharmacies, clinics, and medical suppliers in more than a half-dozen cities in southeast Iowa.

“The agreement represents a collaborative understanding of the industry, our patients, and our communities," said FMCH CEO Jeremy Alexander. "Partnership will create promise that the very best coordinated and comprehensive health care can be found right here in southeast Iowa. It’s a new day; we simply can’t let history stand in the way of our future and doing what’s best for our patients.”

Alexander said FMCH will keep its identity and its Board of Directors during the merger. He said working directly with Great River Health System will improve services locally.

“We want to create an environment where we are working so closely together in the provision of care and the coordination of care that maybe we can attract additional specialties coming to the area and really open up that access to folks locally," said Alexander.

Great River CEO Matt Wenzel expressed similar optimism in regards to the partnership with FMCH.

“Having a shared vision will help us provide higher quality health care. This partnership will create a stronger, local health system solely dedicated to serving the southeast Iowa region,” said Wenzel.

“It just aligns two strong organizations together to provide health care to southeast Iowans for the foreseeable future. Creating value that we haven’t be able to independently that we will be able to do together.”

Both Alexander and Wenzel said patients will not notice a difference once the partnership takes effect next week. They said it's also too early to say what new programs or services could come out of the deal, adding that the two sides will form an integration committee to oversee the transition.

This is not the first health care merger in southeast Iowa in recent years. Keokuk Area Hospital is now operating as UnityPoint Health-Keokuk after it became an affiliate of UnityPoint Health out of Des Moines.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.